It’s the game no one wants to play – and TVNZ will not screen the All Blacks’ playoff for the Rugby World Cup bronze medal with Wales on Friday night.
Instead Kiwi fans will have to put up with Coronation Street.
TVNZ confirmed to the Herald today that it will not be covering Friday’s bronze medal match and will air Coronation Street instead, saying “it’s not our choice”.
“TVNZ was given rights to cover 12 matches and unfortunately the bronze game wasn’t one,” a TVNZ spokeswoman said.
While Coro fans will be jumping for joy, All Blacks supporters have been left in shock.
“[It’s] arguably a more important game than any of the pool stages after the defeat in Yokohama,” one fan told the Herald.
The TVNZ spokeswoman said Spark Sport would be streaming the match live.
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: How All Blacks plan to attack bronze medal match against Wales
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: Five reasons the All Blacks lost the semifinal to England
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: Emotional All Blacks coach Steve Hansen tears up during press conference after semifinal exit against England
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: Winners and losers from the All Blacks’ semifinal exit against England
The game no one wants to play
Despite the agony of their semifinal defeat loss to England the night before, the All Blacks are intent of putting in a performance they can be proud of at Tokyo Stadium on Friday night.
For several, including skipper Kieran Read and coach Steve Hansen, it will be the last time they are closely involved with the All Blacks.
“We’re playing, obviously, so we will treat it like any test match,” Read said yesterday.
“It will be a bit different for us but we’ll prepare as well as we can and perform as best we can. We’re All Blacks so it’s a chance for us to pull on the jersey again.
“For some of us it may be our last chance. There are a few things there what we’ll work through this week and come Friday we’ll be ready to go.”
It’s likely several players not involved in the England loss will get a run; men such as Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty are likely to play, along with Sonny Bill Williams, on the bench for the last two games here.
Hansen said it wasn’t for him to comment on whether the playoff for what is effectively second and third losers should be played. Like it or not, it’s a test, and he and his men still have a remarkable record to protect.
“The fact is the game’s there and the fact is we have to get up,” he said.
“They’re the inconvenient facts. How do we do that? Well, we get connected again and set ourselves an immediate goal and work hard to make sure that we really enjoy this week. It will be the last week that this team is together and we have an opportunity to do it well.
Gatland: Playoff for third ‘monumental’
Kiwi-born Welsh coach Warren Gatland has described Friday’s bronze medal match against the All Blacks as “monumental”.
“For me, it’s my last game in charge against the All Blacks. It will be monumental,” Gatland told Wales Online, after losing the semifinal to South Africa.
The third and fourth place showdown is seen as the game nobody wants to play, with disappointed players having to drag their battered bodies into a season-ending contest.
But there are still things to play for in Tokyo.
The All Blacks’ long winning record against Wales will be on the line. It will also see British and Irish Lions boss Gatland go head-to-head with Steve Hansen one last time, after the pair drew the 2017 series.
Though the ABs last match won’t get any coverage on TVNZ, the final between England and South Africa will still play on channel one Saturday from 8pm.